Preserving a Piece of La Lomita

When the nearly one-hundred year old historic church at La Lomita in Mission went up in flames in late 2009, people in the area were stunned to see the historic site come crumbling down.

"It was heart breaking because it's one of those things where you drive into mission and you see it from all ofSouth Mission, Aisa Rodriguez said. Now you can see through the building and it's heart breaking to see what's left of it."

Come rain or shine, hundreds of volunteers have been working every weekend for the past month to preserve a little bit of this church and even introduce it to future generations.

"We're here preserving the bricks and cleaning the whole bricks to preserve them for the new Juan Diego Academy," John Hernandez said.

The hope is to take as many of the bricks which used to make up the historic church, chisel-off the mortar, and eventually use them to build a faade - or whatever they have enough for - at the new Juan Diego Academy scheduled to open in August. The two building high school sits just yards from the rubble which volunteers said is marked with history.

"There's like a lot of bricks that are handmade, Hernandez said. And you see hand prints - you see like fingers - like the hands indented in them."

The building became an official Texas Historical Marker in 1972.

According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brownsville which owns the building, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate finished the building's construction in 1912.

The diocese said it was used for various things like housing novices and even mentally disabled adults.

Rodriguez said passing the torch - or rather the bricks - from a building so rich in history is also a way to preserve a piece of Mission.

"It's over one hundred years old and all these bricks are hand made so it's part of mission's culture and mission's history, Rodriguez said. And it was really sad that it was knocked down, so it' will be nice to rebuild it."